Time Vampires. Interruptions. Productivity Wasters.
These are just a few of the ways to describe things that keep you from being your most productive self, from accomplishing your goals, and from allowing you to spend less time working while getting more things done.
I have always been obsessed with productivity and time management. And I mean obsessed. So much so that my dad’s boss invited me to teach my productivity techniques to their department at work after I showed him my planner skills. I was in the sixth grade.
And I have only gotten more stubborn and obsessive about it. Since that time, we got cell phones and the internet, and my favorite… ordering things on demand. Why waste time going to the grocery story when I can look up a favorite recipe and in less than 5 minutes order up the ingredients that will be at my door in the next hour? (If I wasn’t already married I might try to marry Instacart and have an affair with Amazon Prime. But that’s just how obsessed I am. Even my fantasies are about productivity apps.)
I’ll share more of my hacks with you Friday (in fact you can get my entire productivity system for free… but more on that then). For now, I wanted to share some highlights from a book on this topic.
Dan Kennedy has a new book coming out soon, “The No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Guide to Time Productivity and Sanity.” The original taught me a lot not just about productivity but also how to ensure that others comply with my need for speed.
I got an advanced copy of the revised book, and it does not disappoint. It is chock full of delicious nuggets to help you get more done every single day that you have.
For today’s post, I want to share Dan’s 7 Techniques for Time Management and how I apply them:
Technique # 1: Tame all interruptions. Get rid of the email pop-ups, vibrations on text, and Facebook notifications. When you are in the zone, be in the zone and remove all distractions. It will feel weird at first, like someone died, but that is just your brain learning how to focus all of its attention on one thing at a time. And it works.
Technique #2: Minimize Meetings. Unless you love drinking stale coffee and saying, “um hum” a lot and getting nothing done, meetings should be avoided at all costs. We moved all of our staff meetings into three 90-minute meetings a week. Sure, those aren’t my favorite 4.5 hours a week (sorry EDG team, love you to the moon and back) but they get all of the meetings done and out of the way so the other 36++ hours can be productive.
Dan offers a bonus tip in this section of the book to have people come to your office before going to meet for coffee or a meal. This way when they are late, which 9 times out of 10 they are, you can get stuff done instead of waiting at the restaurant.
(Or for those of you like me who always can find things to get done at the restaurant on your phone/mini-life-center, here’s to hoping they are always 10 minutes late so you have that time for catching up.)
Technique #3: Practice Absolute Punctuality. Enough said.
Unless you rely on your spouse to get in the car first before you can leave to go somewhere socially, then also agree to drive separately or tell him the “leave-by” time is a good 30 minutes before you actually have to leave. Not that I’ve ever done that… love you, honey!
Technique #4: Make and Use Lists.
What is up with all the waiters and waitresses who insist on keeping the full order in their heads and not writing anything down? It is so irritating. And they literally always get it wrong so you think a little invention of a freaking pen and paper might have made its way into their serving system… Maybe this isn’t a pet peeve of yours, but as someone who dines out a heck of a lot because of my travel schedule, family life, and overall desire to have people bring me things (especially things that taste delicious), I see firsthand everyday that things are missed when they aren’t written down.
The same is true of your productivity lists. Dan shares the lists he keeps on an ongoing basis:
- His schedule for the entire year and day by day.
- Things To Do list organized by month, week and each day, prioritized into As, Bs, and Cs.
- People to Call List. Prioritized.
- Conference Planner. This is about the people he interacts with a lot, keeping track of what he wants to talk to them about next.
And he does it all with a yellow pad of paper.
I have a paper version of this that I use, which I’ll dive more into in a free gift I have for you Friday. If you have a special list-keeping method, share with me in the comments.
Technique #5: Fight to Link Everything to Your Goals.
Dan Kennedy shares, “I insist that the only real reason more people aren’t much, much more productive is that they don’t have enough reasons to be. The secret to greater personal productivity is more good reasons to be more productive. That’s why you have to fight to link everything you do (and choose not to do) to your goals.”
This is why every time we teach folks how to get 10,000 Fans in 72 Hours we start with having the group repeat, “If it’s not going to get me customers, I am not going to do it.”
Technique #6: Block Your Time
Most people have schedules that just lock in meeting times with others. Dan shares that he and other successful professionals (me, frankly being one of them) block off their schedule for the day so that they not only have the meeting time scheduled but the productivity time and off time, too. Whether writing your follow-up emails to sales prospects, going to your son’s baseball game, or getting a massage (yes, please!), everything all day long is blocked. This leads to a much more productive day as you are never wondering what to do next or get sucked into something that isn’t important. Instead you focus on the important and work your way down the line.
Technique #7: Minimize Unplanned Activity
If you are working with a time-blocked schedule, then you are working to “beat the clock” with every task. Virtually every activity from a phone conversation to writing a sales letter or answering inbound sales appointments needs to fit into that schedule. If you allow interruptions such as unplanned phone calls, drop-in “got a minute” meetings from employees, or social media time sucks to interrupt you, you will never master your schedule productivity or goals.
I have found a hack around all of this that I can’t wait to share with you Friday. If you have a hack to share, let me know in the comments.
Productivity is one of the highest return on investment skills you can ever master. For now, I’ll leave you with Dan’s final words from the book, “May the remainder of your focus and time be firmly held.”